COME 2016, the St. John’s Home For Elderly Persons will take its mission of sheltering and caring for the elderly to new heights – literally.
The home will be required to build a five-storey building to house its 98 residents after the land lease expires end-2015. This is to optimise land use under the new lease as the multi-storey building will be built on only a quarter of the 12,000 sq m plot of land which the home currently occupies at Wan Tho Avenue. For the past 55 years, residents have been living in 15 single-storey buildings that are sprawled across this land.
The new facility will cost a whopping $12 million which will have to be raised from donations. St John’s Home for Elderly Persons was set up in 1958 to provide shelter and care for the needy elderly who have no home or suitable accommodation, or whose close relatives are unable to look after them. It is a non-profit charity with Institute of a Public Character status, and provides live-in and day-care accommodation to residents who are reasonably well and ambulant.
St John’s is the oldest sheltered home built by Protestant churches. In 1958, a group of Methodist, Anglican and Presbyterian Christians came together to build it. The Methodist connection remains strong till today.
Methodist groups have been serving faithfully over the years as volunteers. Earlier this year in March, three members of Pentecost Methodist Church were presented with Long Service Awards by the National Council of Social Services. One of the three volunteers, Mrs Jasmine Ee, has been visiting the home every Tuesday to organise karaoke and board games for the residents. She also finds it meaningful to visit the residents in their dormitories.
She shares: “I find it very fulfilling to visit them, because they can be so lonely. Even if I spend five to 10 minutes with them, I can leave them smiling. I’m looking for more volunteers to join me in this effort, especially reaching out to new residents who often feel sceptical and a little intimidated when they first arrive, because they are seldom prepared mentally when their families move them here.”
Having lost both parents before the age of 22, Mrs Ee has a passion for serving the elderly and going the extra mile on their behalf. “Even when I go on holiday,” she smiles, “they will be sending me messages asking when I will return! It’s really a joy to serve them.”
Mr Chen, 86 years old and a resident of the home for the past five years, said: “The volunteers from Pentecost are very caring, always asking how I am doing and trying to help me. The karaoke sessions allow me to spend time with fellow residents and volunteers, instead of just keeping to the dormitory all the time.”
Other faithful volunteers include members of the Women’s Society of Christian Service from the Chinese Annual Conference – they have been faithfully leading worship in Mandarin and dialect every Thursday morning since 2005. They turned down the Long Service Awards as they preferred to keep a low profile.
Mr Goh Beng Hoe, Superintendent of the home, deeply appreciates their quiet service. “They’re very committed and caring to our residents, befriending them and inviting them to participate in fellowship. They’ve made a significant impact on residents, cheering them and making them feel cared for.”
Groups from other Methodist churches and schools serve on an ad-hoc basis. The Endless Praise choir from Wesley Methodist Church led by Mr Jusuf Kam visits the home two to three times yearly to sing for the residents.
There are Methodists too in the administrative office of the Home. Mr Goh is Methodist, and so are his colleagues, Operations Assistant Jeremy Eng Chek Hiang and Assistant Honorary Secretary Vijendran Alfreds. Mrs Julie Hong and Mrs Daisy Mahindapala from the General Conference WSCS represent the Methodist Church on the Spiritual Life Sub-Committee of the home.
SUPPORT * as volunteers and befrienders to the home’s elderly residents. Email Mr Goh Beng Hoe, Superintendent, at stjnhome@ stjohneldershome.org.sg, call 6285-4446, or visit www. stjohneldershome.org.sg
DONATE * to help the home raise $12 million for its new building. 2.5 times tax exemption for all donations.
Grace Toh is the Assistant Editor of Methodist Message.